9 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Astral Chain Review


It’s time to look at one of Nintendo’s most recent games. This one looked like a day 1 purchase right away. It really had everything I could want from a game through its solid gameplay, epic soundtrack, cinematic story, etc. Astral Chain was pretty much guaranteed to be a home run hit and I’m glad to say that it did not disappoint. I definitely hope the game gets a sequel and it continues to show why Platinum is so good at making quality titles. The game will last you for around 14 hours to complete the main story which is pretty good.

The basic plot is that the world is under attack by invisible monsters. The only way to see them is to equip a Legion which is effectively a captured monster that you fight with. This helps to even the playing field with the evil monsters. The main character is one of those silent assassin types who gets the job done without complaint. His sister Akira is the more vocal member of the group who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. The two are selected to be in the Legion program and now work to make the world a safer place. Still, it is odd how there are so many portals with monsters showing up lately and their boss seems rather shady. Akira and the lead will have to stay sharp.

I picked the guy to play as, but if you had chosen to play as Akira then the guy would probably be doing the talking while you are silent. I’m definitely never a big fan of the silent lead, but I suppose it’s not like it hurts the story all that much. It just makes him really lacking in personality. Also, even though I named him Terry nobody actually called me that and in two different cutscenes they called him something else which I’m guessing is his actual name. Still, while the lead has no character the heroine is mostly solid. She’s quick to stand up to the bosses and jumps into action. Her character arc does go in some dicey directions such as her final fight with us which really came out of nowhere. Akira was solid for the most part though and that’s what counts in the end.

The gameplay is that of a 3D brawler. You can fight up close with the sword or hang back and use your gun. The gun is significantly weaker than the sword so it’s not something you’ll want to use very often. A big part of the gameplay is also in controlling your Legion. It’s effectively like an A.I. ally who comes in to help you. His attacks deal massive damage and you can also use him to jump across large distances or for combo moves. The gameplay has a lot of depth to it, but it’s explained well so you’ll quickly get the hang of it. There is also a training room with a lot of tutorials you can go to if you ever forget how to do something. The game also helpfully reminds you of the key abilities whenever you’re in a puzzle which I definitely appreciate.

The soundtrack is definitely quite solid. The main boss theme is rock based and really gets you into the zone. The whole game just clicks really well and it goes without saying that the graphics are really good as well. You can customize your character’s look a lot as well which sticks around for the cutscenes. I had fun changing up my character depending on what was happening. I started out as a hopeful cadet, then I switched to a casual slacker, and then finally to a very cynical rogue. It was a fun little side thing for sure.

I’d say that the only weak part of the game (relatively speaking. This is still a 9 star title so there wasn’t anything seriously weak here) was the investigation parts. I don’t really think this ended up adding much to the game. I suppose it helps the immersion since you’re a cop and there should be a lot of investigating going around. It’s just a lot slower than the actual combat and while you’re finding clues all you can think of it continuing the story a little more. Other than that, the game is very fast paced from start to finish with a lot of twists and turns all around.

I would say that there are enough loose ends here to have a sequel come up. Really it feels like the humans are still the shady ones here, but either way the threat isn’t over. Two plans have already been put into action without results so the heroes are going to have to think of what to do next. If there is no sequel the ending here can still be seen as definitive, but I think a sequel would be a good idea. I’m also glad that the main character stayed strong all the way through to the end even if his legion did not have similar resolve in his actions. One is better than none.

Assuming you’re playing on the Platinum difficulty then I recommend buying upgrades to your Legolas right away. Doing so gives you extra batteries which are effectively extra lives. They are incredibly handy when fighting with the bosses. The game is reasonably difficult so you’ll also want to have items on hand. They’re a little expensive but you want to be maxed out on battery chargers at all times. I barely took down the final boss and that’s considering that I came prepared with around 10 batteries and a bunch of full heals. If you come in with anything less then you’re definitely going to possibly be in some trouble. For replay value you can work on maxing out all of your legions after beating the game. There are also a bunch of side quests and achievements to complete as well. This will definitely take you some time and I expect you will be well acquainted with the world by the end of your adventures.

Overall, Astral Chain is definitely an excellent game and I highly recommend checking it out. The menu screens are all very intuitive. Leveling up is pretty easy and never feels like a drag. Obtaining enough premium codes to max everyone out seems like it’ll take a long time, but the replay value is good. It’s not forced so you only have to keep going if you want to. With all of the difficulty levels here you never have to feel like you’re truly stuck. As you learn the boss patterns you can also put up a much better fight the longer you train. If you don’t have this game yet then you’re going to want to change that.

Overall 9/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Resident Evil: Retribution Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

It’s been quite a while, but it’s time to finally rejoin the Resident Evil series and continue with Alice’s adventure. The movie series has always been a very interesting one. It’s got a dynamite soundtrack and the special effects are on point. It’s also got a very interesting plot and handles the whole zombie angle way better than most other titles. It ends up faltering due to the excessive violence and fanservice running around, but at least you have a decent time while watching it. This film is no exception so you’ll have a lot of fun as the film goes on even if it can’t escape some of the usual issues.

The movie starts off by giving us a brief recap of the last few films. If you managed to forget parts then this will help a bit, but honestly I don’t see how you could forget since the films are too exciting for that. To this day I have to admit that Resident Evil consistently has the best cliffhangers out of any live action movie. They always end with a bang and that keeps you going until the next movie. The credits play before that through a slow motion scene that goes backwards before then playing it again at normal speed. It’s an interesting way to start the film, but I think the scene does go on for a little too long. It’s always interesting to see how the scenes look before they’re at normal speed though.

So last time Jill and the other members of Umbrella stormed the boat and attacked the heroes. Alice was captured during this offensive and is being held at Umbrella’s most dangerous prison. The Red Queen has decided that now is the time to break Alice. Fortunately she is given an escape option thanks to Wesker. He hacked the system and sent in his top agent Ada to help Alice get out. She doesn’t trust him, but she’ll surely die if she stays so she goes along with this plan. The prison is huge with different areas spanning multiple city blocks and each area is infested with zombies that she has met in previous films as well as normal ones. Alice will really have to work hard to get out of here. Meanwhile a squad has also been sent in to rescue Alice from the outside. They’ll have to get halfway through the compound to rescue her, but breaking in is just as difficult as breaking out. Neither side is going to have an easy time here.

Well, lets tackle the film’s weak points first. For starters this is still a film that is focused on using a ton of gratuitous violence as the heroes mow down the zombies. Someone gets drilled with a spinning disc until they’re murdered, others are sliced and diced, and everyone else is eaten alive or shot down. There’s constant violence here to be sure. I feel like it’s less violent than the last one or two, but it’s been a while so it may just feel that way. As always the film does make sure to include one fanservice scene at the very beginning as the villains try to break Alice, but it’s not quite as forced as in the last films. It’s still one of the weakest scenes in the film though and I guess the Red Queen is getting emotional at this point because there really doesn’t seem to be much of a point in kidnapping Alice in the first place. At the very least they aren’t running tests or doing any of the usual maneuvers that you would expect.

The supporting characters are also pretty forgettable. Anyone who isn’t one of the main 4 characters is quickly shoved to the side. It’s hard to care about any of the group members who came to save Alice despite at least one of them possibly being a character from an older film. The main guy is Leon and he doesn’t leave much of an impact. They all just start to blend together and feel like cannon fodder. Ultimately they don’t seem all that important. At least the main cast is solid though.

As always Alice is a great character. She’s certainly kept her fighting skills over the years and is always ready for the next fight. Her character is exactly how I would like Samus to be portrayed if we ever get a Metroid film. To say that Alice is one of the best film heroines of all time would not be an understatement. At the moment I cannot think of anyone who would be above her. She’s just that good and has been consistently solid throughout all of the films in the series. This may still be her best portrayal yet as she is both a solid soldier as well as a compassionate mother figure in this movie. I’m expecting great things from her in the next film as well.

Wesker gets to appear a little here. His role is large but his screen time isn’t although that should change in the next film. There’s a lot of ways the film can finish up his character arc so I look forward to seeing what they choose. He is incredibly overpowered to the point where it seems like he could end the zombie apocalypse on his own. I suppose it isn’t that easy, but it does feel that way. Alice will have to watch out in the next film although thanks to a twist in the ending she may be ready for him.

Jill spends most of the film under mind control but makes for a terrific main villain. Her fighting skills are the real deal and when you mix in her hand to hand expertise she really becomes a serious threat. Her costume is very accurate to the games and she is a scene stealer. Then you have Ada who also gets a lot of hype for her fighting abilities, but isn’t quite as impressive as Jill. I don’t think there is ever a question of who would win if these two were to fight each other. There’s also a kid who tags along for a good chunk of the film. Her plot is fairly sad, but Alice does what she can to help. The kid can actually listen to orders so she is considerably better than most others. Her Mom also did good as she didn’t panic too much when the zombies came and actually fought quite a bit.

Continuing with the film’s excellent execution, it really pulls off the zombie invasion in this small town. It’s an intense set of scenes with a lot of good attention to detail as you see people trying to fight off the zombies in the background. I definitely don’t think heading back into a house is a good idea in the zombie apocalypse, but in the spur of the moment I suppose there isn’t much else you can do. The whole thing is pretty thrilling and it’s like seeing an AU of what it could have been.

As always the soundtrack is dynamite as well. It really feels like something out of a video game and I think that’s part of why these films shine so much. The structure and feel is like a video game and the films aren’t afraid to embrace that aspect. The costumes are on point as well and the pacing is also solid. It’s still a little hard to describe what really makes these films pop, but I think at the end of the day it’s that sci-fi works really well for any medium. It’s why Astral Chain looked so great and why these films are so engaging. Sci-Fi is just excellent.

I also need to point out that the fight scenes here are excellent. Jill vs Alice is certainly the highlight. It’s the kind of fight where it’s one sided, but close enough for both fighters to still be throwing attacks around if that makes sense. It’s just a lot of solid back and forth. Then you have the other fight of Rain taking on the side characters and that plays out as you would expect. She’s simply too powerful and Alice has a tough time there. Throwing in these super soldiers really takes Resident Evil to the next level. If there’s any complaint with this climax it is that the resolution to Jill vs Alice doesn’t make any sense. Stopping the tech should not be so easy because if it was then the fight should not have lasted so long. There would be many opportunities to do what Alice did at the end a little earlier in the fight. It’s also poor design on the villains part.

I didn’t talk much about Rain earlier, but she’s a solid villain. Her good self was also fun and you’ll feel bad for her. She did try her best to help out but is the definition of a red shirt. She was never going to last very long in this brutal world. Rain never faltered and that’s the important thing. Evil Rain is just as solid and really gave the heroes a hard time.

As I mentioned these films are known for their awesome endings and this film does its best to top them all. I’m not sure if I’ll give it the top spot over the original, but it definitely comes close with the heroes preparing for their final battle. It really feels like we have finally made it to the end of the road. It’s hard to see how the heroes will be able to overcome such crazy odds but with Alice and Wesker they have a chance. The tough part will be trying to keep the two from destroying each other in the meantime. The ending also gives a lot of hope for more awesome fights in the next film only this time we may finally be back to the more super hero-esque adventures.

Overall, Resident Evil: Retribution brings the nonstop action that you are hoping to see. It’s a very solid film on all the fundamentals and is definitely the best title in the series. It improves on all the previous ones and does its best to get over some of the negatives. It’s still dug its grave with the amount of over the top violence here, but the upwards slope this film brings the series to is definitely a good thing. If you like horror films or just want a good sci-fi thriller then you definitely need to check this out. So long as you are cool with the violence you can expect to have a home run hit on your side. Hopefully the next and last film in the series can give us a proper ending.

Overall 3/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Avengers Assemble Review


This Avengers show definitely ran for a very long time. It got over 120 episodes which is impressive for any title. It managed to reach 5 seasons and adapted a ton of different Marvel events and brought in all of the fan favorite characters. While it’s not quite as solid as Avenger EMH or the classic 90’s X-Men show, it’s still a pretty good team show. It’s a very good title that you’ll have fun with. It checks off the right boxes and from the current wave of Marvel shows I would definitely say that it was the best one. The Avengers are just fun to have around.

It was a little funny how the show started though as they bump off Captain America almost immediately. Naturally any comic book fan knows that this isn’t going to stick, but it’s fun anyway. The heroes try to stay serious and for irony they have Iron Man tell the other characters that this is no time for jokes. Everyone ends up joking and making banter anyway, but they do try to keep some serious-ness about them during the first episode. The first episodes tried experimenting with comic book panels for the animation. So the characters would fly for example, but the screen would shrink to a panel size. It was an interesting idea, but I’m glad that it was thrown out almost immediately.

Season 1 is mainly about Red Skull and his Cabal of villains. It’s always nice to have a good villain group and these guys could hold their own so it worked out. Attuma and Dracula are among the members and those guys are no joke. While the series was still just starting it was a solid way to incorporate the fights right away and you got a feel for the show. It’s certainly one of the weaker seasons overall, but it holds its own just fine. It’d probably be nostalgic to go back and see how season 1 has aged.

Season 2 has quite a lot going on. First off you have the arrival of Thanos which brings us a ton of fights and then you get Ultron’s big move. Additionally the Squadron Supreme shows up with their Justice League-esque members as they try to take down the Avengers once and for all. That was definitely one of the highlights here since those guys have never really gotten to appear in the Marvel comics before now. It was great to see them on the big screen at long last.

Season 3 brings back Ultron and also adds in the Inhumans as well as a Civil War arc of sorts. It’s another pretty packed season and I do think that the show really started to hit its stride around season 2, but it continued seamlessly into season 3. The show just looked sharper and had more engaging episodes. The Civil War parts are always fun and you can’t really go wrong with Ultron either. There were a lot of fights to enjoy here and the effects of these events did continue into season 4.

Season 4 brings in the Secret Wars which was definitely cool. It’s not handled nearly as well as it was in the old Spider-Man cartoon, but it is really hard to top that one right? It does span almost the whole season though so there is a lot of time for things to happen, but it’s pretty changed from the comic. There are less spontaneous battles and chaos going on which is not the Secret Wars that I remember. We really need a full movie adaption of that legendary saga. Now that would be a lot of fun. Still, it was like an ensemble of all the heroes throughout the series so that was cool.

Season 5 is definitely the weakest of the bunch. The show effectively became the Black Panther show instead of an Avengers title. I’m rarely a fan of Black Panther as the MCU is one of the only continuities to make him likable. Typically he’s just way too arrogant and is basically a villain at times. You can probably imagine that the show wasn’t able to change that so when he is the main focus there isn’t much to really hold your interest here. It’s a whole season just to show why he is better than the Avengers. The basic plot though is that the Shadow Council is framing Black Panther and they intend to destroy the world. To stop them he’ll need a lot of old artifacts from Wakanda and he may have to time travel to use them.

So there’s definitely a lot happening here. As I mentioned, starting with season 2 the show did get better. The animation improved quite drastically as the colors were sharper and it actually got a little closer to the 90’s in terms of style and design. There was even a good soundtrack with a lot of tunes that almost seemed directly ripped from the Justice League cartoon. I wonder if that’s even possible or maybe the shows used some public domain music. Either way it did make everything a lot more epic.

And yet…the show still couldn’t reach the classics. So why is that? I’ve thought about it a lot and it’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best to convey it. At no point in this show do you feel any serious stakes or truly hype moments. In The X-Men show the Phoenix Saga was grand and a real page turner. The Spider-Man show had quite a few sagas like the Secret Wars and Avengers EMH had the whole skrull invasion. Assemble has a ton of arcs, but none of them are quite as solid as those were. I think there are two guilty factors here. One is the nonstop humor in the show. If the heroes are constantly joking during the fights and not taking it seriously then the audience can’t either. Why feel scared for the heroes if they’re getting choked and still making puns? Assemble never really knows when to take a break from the one liners but that’s also true for most modern cartoons. It takes away any sense of danger.

Then there is the fact that the heroes seem to be able to lose to just about anyone. We get villains as powerful as Thanos and the Beyonder and then have to try and take guys like the Leader seriously. The stakes go from being universal to street level and it keeps flipping back and forth so often that it destroys your sense of scale. A show can certainly go back and forth, but like with the comics if you keep on going too often then things are going to get a little messy and you’ll experience event fatigue. We can’t blame the animation or soundtrack since I already mentioned that those are quite good. I suppose you can take some shots at the fight scenes though. There’s no weight behind any of the hits. Fights like Thor vs Hyperion are decent, but they don’t come anywhere close to the fights of EMH or something like Justice League. Everyone hits about as hard as sandpaper.

The fights can still look good though and I do enjoy the action, it’s just on a completely different level. It’s why most of the current superhero shows are stuck at a 7. It’s a very respectable score and the show is fun, but they just don’t manage to get to “Great” status. You need more of an engaging plot and a really strong cast to pull that off. That’s not something that Assemble is quite ready to do. Maybe the show will come back and try to prove me wrong at some point. I’d definitely be up for more Avengers action and lasting over 100 episodes is definitely impressive in and of itself.

Get ready for a lot of power level shenanigans, but for a long running superhero cartoon like this one that is basically inevitable. This kind of thing never really hurts the score, you just gotta roll with it. Season 5 is particularly guilty of this as Black Panther beats the entire Avengers crew multiple times. The show tries to make him seem like Batman at times with how prepared for everything he is. Even when he gets betrayed he always tries to make it seem like someone else’s fault. Then you’ve got Ultron taking down Thanos with the gauntlet which was pretty fun. That one’s more believable since Ultron is well, he’s Ultron. Still, I remember that one getting a lot of headlines back in the day and we also can’t forget Iron Man taking on the Byeonder. At the end of the day this show is all about seeing your favorite heroes duke it out with a bunch of villains and it delivers.

As for the characters, they’re all about the same as you would expect them to be from the movies or the comics. None of them are particularly changed or anything. Iron Man is still the leader of the group who likes to goof off, but it always ready with a solution when the world needs him. Then you’ve got Captain America who is more by the books but will startle everyone with the occasional joke. Thor is unfortunately not very smart in this version so he sometimes acts more like the Hulk than the green behemoth. Ms. Marvel is here to cover the newbie angle. She just wants the team to accept her and since she is a kid they all see her as the rookie. Interestingly her character is completely different in the current Spider-Man show as she gets pretty overconfident there. I like to think that Teen Titans Go got this one right as Robin explained in one comic that characters just act differently depending on what crew they’re with. It’s why he’s so goofy with the Titans, but gets serious when Batman is around. I guess not having the Avengers around just makes Ms. Marvel a whole lot braver.

As for the villains Thanos and Ultron are definitely a blast. Thanos gets to really go all out in the battle on the Moon and the scene of him hitting Thor against the hammer definitely looked painful. Ultron plays mind games with everyone as always and definitely has a lot of firepower. Then you’ve got Red Skull who has a really big role here and makes for a decent villain. The Squadron Supreme also deserves a mention. They really should have beaten the Avengers most of the times they fought. Their team is just OP and it reminds me once again why the Justice League would totally school the Avengers in a fair fight. Their members are just way too powerful and completely out of their league.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot more to say here. Avengers Assemble is definitely what you’d expect from a modern Avengers show. It gives us a lot of quality episodes and sagas. The show really takes advantage of the wide roster of Avengers through the years and how many characters they’ve faced. While the show may not contain the soul of the older titles, it still does a very respectable job. There isn’t really anything to dislike about the show and the large array of episodes ensure that it has a lot of replay value as well. It’s a show that you can pick up and watch at any time or if you have a favorite character you can look him or her up and odds are that the show will have introduced this fighter. The amount of guest stars here is quite impressive and having a consistently solid show that you could watch week after week is a very nice thing. If you are a big fan of comics or just like a good action show then I’d recommend checking this one out. It’s a good cartoon for a Saturday Morning.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Shuriken and Pleats Review


It’s time to look at a recent manga from the creator of Vampire Knight. One glance at the cover and you’ll likely recognize her style. I definitely was not a fan of Vampire Knight and the sequel also hasn’t been too good so I can’t say that my hopes for this title were too high. Still, I figured it would be better since there were no vampires and I was right. After all, no vampires is always a win in my book and this title was no exception. It’s not great and the main romance is pretty dicey, but for 2 volumes it did a reasonable amount to make the characters decent.

The manga introduces us to Mikage who is a ninja protecting Mr. Rod from the various assasins who wish to have him taken out of the picture. The reason for this is that he has a grain of sorts that will end world hunger or something. The specifics aren’t all that important as Rod would much rather talk to Mikage about how she should be living a normal life. She does not want to do this though as it would be against the ninja code and additionally she would rather be by his side. Well, one day he is murdered and in his final will he had put for Mikage to live a normal life as his last wish. She heads to a school, but gets mixed up in the same case from another angle with a guy named Mahito who wants to continue Rod’s work. Can Mikage now get some closure on this whole thing?

Mikage may not have wanted to leave the ninja biz, but it’s probably good that she did. The organization definitely seemed dangerous in how seriously it took itself. Her father basically said that the ninja are expendable and has a very old time look on things. Mikage’s mother is a lot more reasonable but also very oblivious as she somehow doesn’t notice the whole ninja business. I don’t get how she wouldn’t realize what is going on, but her role is extremely small so I suppose by living in another state/country she is just kept out of the loop the whole time.

Mikage’s a solid heroine who means well and does her best to fulfill her role as a bodyguard. Her skills are quite sharp as she seems to be among the top 3 ninja across the organization. She is always ready for action and while she may be oblivious to day to day activities like being a school girl, she has definitely mastered her craft. I’d say there are some similarities with Yuki from Vampire Knight, but Mikage’s a more pro-active lead. She’s always doing something and is pretty heroic as she does jump in to help others even when she is off the clock.

There isn’t much of a supporting cast to bounce off of her though. Again, it’s only 2 volumes so I guess there isn’t much you can do about that, but the cast still feels really small. First you’ve got Mr. Rod who is shown to be a nice father type figure in Mikage’s life. He wants her to be happy and just seems like a noble spirit. He gets bumped off right away, but they were building him up to be pretty good. He’s decent for a while, but I have to give him a firm thumbs down by the end. It’s because of the romance plot but more about that later on. Then you have Mahito and he has the same issues as Rod. He seems nice enough but the romance part, while less dicey doesn’t really help his case much. I do prefer him to Rod though as he at least tries to fight and support Mikage. He takes a lot of Ls, but better to try and fail than not to try at all right?

Then you’ve got Suzuki who is a kid from school. Had this been a longer series I would have expected him to actually be one of the villains or something, but he turns out to literally just be a classmate who is bullied all the time. He likes Mikage, but surprisingly the manga doesn’t really bother with this romance. Suzuki is literally too bright for Mikage to look at so they don’t hang around much. I think he’s mainly around as a good segway to introducing the school and so Mikage will at least have someone to talk to. Finally we have Ichinosuke who is a skilled ninja who works for the side branch of the main family. He’s pretty skilled in his own right although he definitely can’t beat Mikage in a fight. The guy’s a decent villain, but he’s not the one calling the shots so for the most part he is just being manipulated. You won’t rise up to the top that way.

The manga isn’t really about the action, but we do get some good scenes during its run. The final fight against the main villain is pretty good and the manga did establish this guy as a solid threat. In general the art is pretty good. I think the artist did a better job of making sure that all of the characters don’t look too similar unlike good ole Vampire Knight where a bunch of people seemed to be identical half the time. I don’t think there were any characters here that I would mix up which is definitely solid.

Now for the romance. Well, this was definitely not going to end well from the start. Mikage likes Rod who has got to be at least double her age if not older. There’s no way to turn that into a solid romance. At least making it one sided isn’t the end of the world, but Rod’s answer isn’t as definitive as a no as I would have liked. I wanted a closed and shut “never” response from him. Then you’ve got Mahito and Suzuki who are vying for Mikage’s affections with no results. It’s a Shojo manga so at least the romance is handled more traditionally than a Shonen and nothing actually happens, but it’s definitely a plot that I would have cut out personally.


Overall, Shuriken and Pleats is a manga with one of those titles that I don’t totally get. Maybe Pleats is the kind of uniform that Mikage uses. Yeah, I could have googled the term, but I didn’t so I’ll leave it to guesswork for now. It’s a fun enough title to check out and 2 volumes isn’t going to cost you a whole lot of time anyway. There’s not a whole lot here to offer you beyond a good time though. It’s definitely not a game changing Shojo manga, but I do like the premise and it definitely doesn’t drag on. The ending may have fallen completely flat for me, but up til then it was a solid experience and I’d lightly recommend checking it out. At the end of the day it didn’t make any of the big mistakes like fanservice or animal violence so there’s no reason to give it a thumbs down. I don’t read a whole lot of one shots/mini series so it’s always good to add another one to the roster. Maybe the author can make a sequel to this one someday. There’s a lot of fun themes that could be expanded on here like Mikage just hanging out at school or rival ninja groups coming in for fights.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Reign of the Supermen Review


It’s time to look at a pretty recent Superman film. This one is the follow up to the big battle with Doomsday that came out a while back. It’s a solid follow up that doesn’t quite match the action and intensity of the earlier film, but does give Superman’s supporting cast more of a role. If the last film was an end of the world type event then this film is the quick breather before things get back to end of the world stakes.

The film starts off by introducing us to the Supermen who have arrived to take over for Superman. One of these guys is Superboy who was created by Lex to show the world that the new Superman is under his leadership. He is fairly strong, but definitely has an ego and doesn’t seem ultra heroic. Then you’ve got Steel who doesn’t have any fancy super powers, but he does have his hammer which is pretty sturdy. You’ve got the Eradicator who is the most merciless of the Supermen and has made it his life
s goal to destroy all of the criminals. Even if the law doesn’t recognize someone as a criminal like Lex Luthor the Eradicator will try to take him down. Finally you’ve got the Cyborg Superman who claims to be the real one. He definitely seems the most compassionate of the 4 and the most powerful as well, but is it too good to be true? Lois must get to the bottom of this and get some closure on the status of Superman.

I’m less familiar with this follow up arc compared to the Doomsday one, but the film seems like a good take on it. Definitely more of a loose adaption since it’s putting this one in the New 52 continuity along with the Justice League. I miss the Blue and Red Supermen since I think they were in the original arc, but it is possible that they came in a little after. Either way, the important thing isn’t so much the adaption, but just how it stands up on its own.

First off the animation is still really good. I like the New 52 style animation, it’s actually decently close to how DC used to look at its peak. It may not be the DCAU, but it’s one of the next best things. It works well for the action scenes as well as the general landscape around the fights. Then the soundtrack is decent although not really memorable. The sounds and such work well during the film which is what counts.

From the 4 Supermen my favorite is still Cyborg Superman. He’s always been one of the better Superman characters so it’s nice to see him here. He may not be one of the most popular Superman villains, but he is still known well enough where people will probably be able to see through him pretty quick. His character arc goes down a pretty different path here as he actually works for someone which is a bit out of character. He does rectify this by the end which is good though. Then we have the Eradicator who is the next best member of the Supermen. It’s pretty interesting to see a Suprman who uses energy blasts instead of his fists. There’s a twist about his identity which works pretty well. It also makes him very versatile since he can really go anywhere.

Superboy is fun enough. He feels like the B grade version of Damian though. He is super confident, but tends to lose the fights he is in. It’s not his fault that he happens to be in a film with guys who are way stronger than him, but you would think that it would tone down his confidence a bit. He also has one critical moment where he just abandons someone to die as well. As I said, he’s just not very heroic. I think he’ll only get better from here on out though. Then you’ve got Steel who is the most out of his league here. He’s got a hammer, but what’s that gonna do against people who are as strong as Kryptonians? They can just shatter the hammer with ease. Steel means well though and he’s definitely a nice guy. He always gives me flashbacks of the old Steel film. I’m sure he’ll continue to be a useful ally as the films go on.

I do think that including the Justice League and the Darkseid plot was a bit of a mistake though. The main issue is that it brings in a lot of extra power level situations that aren’t actually needed here. One big question you’ll have is where are the League and what are they doing about the Superman situation. Well..not much of anything. Wonder Woman mentions that they’re stretched thin and then later on when they show up to help the President none of them actually want to go talk to Cyborg Superman. The way that they are written out of the film is also on the lazy side. You won’t actually be able to buy the scene for a second, not as long as someone like the Flash is there. This subplot does lead into the after credits scene which will likely be one of the best of the new line of DC titles. It still could have happened without the League actually appearing though. Just have the Cyborg Superman plot twist happen at the very end as he’s being defeated which leads to the cliffhanger. Darkseid and the gang are hype, but you know there’s no time for a proper round 2 anyway, that needs its own film.

The writing here is pretty solid. You’ve got an interesting plot that, while it may not have a whole lot of replay value thanks to the minimal amount of fights, makes for a good watch. It’s a fresh story so you’re ready to see where it leads you. The pacing here is good and it’s always interesting to see a world without Superman. The only scene that does drag on quite a bit is when Lois meets up with Wonder Woman. It seemed like a homage to one comic where they met up, but the dialogue was a lot stronger there. This scene mainly feels like it’s trying to buy time and it didn’t seem like it really set anything up either. Good to see that WW and Lois get along, but you could have probably guessed that anyway. I think if that had led up to a cool team up as they infiltrate LexCorp or something then that would be hype. Lois also has to use her charms to try and get some info at LexCorp so in general her plot was definitely one of the weak links here.

The best scenes are all when the Supermen are around and picking fights with each other. I haven’t mentioned Superman himself much yet, but he’s solid as always. He’s not really at full power here or even close to it so you don’t get to see him really taking it to anyone this time around. No worries, I’m sure he’ll get a lot of cool fight scenes in future movies as it is.

Overall, Reign of the Supermen is a fun concept and makes for a solid movie. It won’t go down as one of the more memorable DC titles, but there’s nothing really wrong with it either. It’s more of a low stakes film that focuses on the character development side of things. As Superman hasn’t gotten quite as much time in his Clark Kent form in this continuity I’m sure fans will like seeing how everyone reacts to him being gone. With this film done I’m pretty close to being caught up with the DC titles. Hopefully we get another Superman or Justice League film soon, but in the meanwhile the Wonder Woman one looks like it should be solid and Batman Hush always had an interesting plot.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

One Piece Strong World Review


This has definitely been a movie that’s been on the backburner for quite a while. Strong World is known as one of the better One Piece films or at least when it came out it was known as such. After that we got some heavy hitters like Z and Gold which have also forged a name for themselves. Strong World is definitely a fun film but definitely a step under Gold and I get the feeling that Z will win. It’s a good all around adventure, but does have some issues.

The film starts off with the Strawhats scattered once again amidst a bunch of flying islands. We then see that Nami has been captured by the pirate known as Shiki, the strongest man in the world. Luffy and friends will have to hurry if they want to save her and after this we also learn how she was captured in the first place. Shiki has amassed a large pirate army and many other crews have also gathered to help him wipe out the East Blue. The stakes are high and continue to escalate as the terror approaches the home of the Strawhats.

Shiki is definitely established as a powerful villain here since he is untouchable for most of the heroes and even Luffy has to play defense for most of their encounters. The film makes it very clear that Shiki is stronger than Luffy. In a straight fight the hero just has no shot to win here. While not unheard of, it is still rare to see Luffy losing like this. He takes quite a lot of hits throughout the film. Shiki’s ability is to manipulate gravity and that helps him enhance his speed and power as well. Shiki is definitely a powerful enemy, but I can’t say that I cared for him.

He’s super quirky to the point where it is hard to keep thinking of him as a threat. He panics with his subordinates quite a bit after all and has a very short memory span. Nami manages to escape from him several times as well so you do have to doubt his security measures. Being good in a fight is not enough to make you a great enemy. His two lieutenants also aren’t all that good. One is basically King Kong and the other one is decent with a sword, but too busy trying to keep up charades to actually remain as a threat.

As expected the animation is quite good. Surprisingly the film doesn’t lead off with the big high budget scene. Typically the films love to show the environment and the animation in the first shots like in all of the Pokemon films. For the One Piece film it starts off with a Shiki scene first and then cuts away to Luffy which is where the animation goes way up. The visuals for the jungles are definitely quite solid and the whole thing is very smooth. This is one area where it can definitely hold its own against the newer titles.

I also really liked the soundtrack. The tunes are a lot more fun than what is in the actual show. It’s going for a very “nature-esque” array of themes which makes sense since Luffy is in the jungle the whole time. It’s all very fast paced and high energy. The film definitely went all in on a technical level.

So where does the film falter? Well, it does have a fanservice issue. To an extent we can always expect that with One Piece with Nami around, but Gold for example did a good job of restraining itself. Maybe a tiny moment here and there, but Strong World just keeps it coming for quite a bit. It’s enough where it is noticeable. As mentioned, the villains are also a little on the weak side. The ones in Gold had a lot more character. Brook also still exists and so naturally most of his dialogue is terrible.

It is also a bit iffy to see Luffy and the others get wrecked so badly, but that I can roll with since you can’t ask for the strongest villain to fight and then be upset when he clobbers the heroes. At least Luffy and the others put up a fight although Luffy should have gone into Gear 2 as soon as Shiki went after Nami. There’s no real reason to hold back when lives are at stake right? Zoro and Sanji are definitely shown to be out of their league this time, but they do get to contribute a little at least. The scene of the whole team trying to fight Shiki was cool because they almost never get to fight an enemy like that. The only time I can think of off the top of my head is when they all fought Aokji. I love group fights like that and for One Piece I feel like that may never happen again, but the series has a ways to go so hopefully they do get to do that. In the meanwhile the movies help with this since it’s a lot easier to have the whole group assemble here.

A standout character was actually a thunder bird named Billy. At first you expect he’ll just be a fun animal mascot to aid Nami, but the guy can fight. He takes out a ton of giant monsters and without him Luffy wouldn’t have stood a chance against Shiki. Billy’s the kind of movie character you want to have. He doesn’t steal moments from the main cast, but does assist a lot so he doesn’t feel like a filler character either. The guy just wants to help his friends out and you can’t go wrong there.

One key part that the film does right is keeping the adventure very fast paced like all good fantasy films should. There’s rarely a time where the film really slows down so there is a lot of replay value. I may not call this film great, but I did have a fun time and there’s a lot to like here. It’s just a good popcorn fun adventure where you get to see all of the characters unleash their signature abilities and take down some villains. It’s a little contrived that both Sanji and Zoro’s opponents escaped only to have to fight them again though. I’m thinking they wanted to include their second intros, but you do have to wonder how the villains would have escaped in the first place.

Overall, Strong World is definitely a fun film that I’d recommend. Whether you’re a fan of the series or not you’ll definitely enjoy it. There are enough recap nods and such to ensure that even people unfamiliar with the series can get into it. I thought the opening showing off all the members of the crew was handled really well. They all get the name bumpers and a quick scene so you can see what they can do. Nami is the last to be shown, but I think you’ll still be able to tell that Luffy is the main character since his segment is the longest and he just feels like your classic Shonen lead. I’ve always loved character intros like this so One Piece really nailed it here. I look forward to seeing what the next film is like.

Overall 7/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Mega Man Fully Charged Review


It’s time to look at the recent Mega Man show. This one was definitely a different take on the legendary character, but one that worked pretty well nonetheless. It’s nice to have the blue bomber back in any form. Season 2 has not been announced yet and as the days stretch by it looks less and less likely. Still, hopefully the show will be back because the show definitely had some potential. In the meanwhile at least it did last for a full season.

The show starts by introducing us to the world of Mega Man. It takes place in the future where humans and robots co-exist in peace. A big war between the humans and robots happened a while back with the humans winning which is likely why they have the upper hand. Robots now live to serve them and can’t hurt humans. Lord Obsidian does not like that though and starts convincing various robots to turn evil. The Good Guild exists to quell such rebellions, but their skills may not be enough to stop these guys.

Fortunately, there exists a kid named Aki. He’s Dr. Light’s robot and while everyone just thinks that he is an ordinary kid, he actually has the ability to turn into Mega Man thanks to some help from a little robot who lives in his head called Mega Mini. The only person who knows about his secret identity is his sister Suna. Keeping the balance between his human and robot self is tough, but it is definitely something that Aki believes he can handle. No matter how many robots go against him Mega Man will be ready to save the day.

The whole thing about Mega Man having to keep his secret identity is definitely an interesting choice. It’s not something that Mega Man typically has to deal with, but within the setting it does make sense. The main problem though is that you never feel like the show thought this one through. There are various aspects here that the show never delves into, but you can’t help but feel are super relevant. Here’s your first question. Aki is a robot that Dr Light built to be an ordinary kid. So, how did Mega Mini come into existence? If Dr Light invented him then surely he already knows Aki is Mega Man right? If Light didn’t build him, who did? Mega Mini clearly has a whole terminal set up in Mega Man so someone designed such an area.

The second issue is that AKi’s ability to turn into Mega Man is something that had to be programmed. There’s also no way that Light wouldn’t have noticed this whenever he did Mega Man’s diagnostics to make sure he was okay. I think the avoid tripping itself up like this the show should have just had Light and Suna know from the start. It really wouldn’t change a whole lot in the show anyway and it would have simply made more sense.

Ah well, the school scenes are still reasonable. The best part of the show is naturally the action, but for the most part the classmates aren’t bad. The only one who is terrible would be Peter. While the show is mostly tame with the crude humor, there is one episode where Peter has a runny nose the whole time which was definitely gross to look at. He doesn’t really have a purpose in the story either so if you cut him out then nothing would really change. He definitely wasn’t needed here. Meanwhile Ashley is good although the small romance that the show tries to throw with her and Mega Man is unnecessary. You really don’t need any romance like that in a Mega Man show. It’s the classic story-line where Ashley likes Mega Man but not Aki so he is effectively competing with himself.

Then you’ve got Wily, but he’s very different from how he is in the games. Here Wily is a kid so they may be going for more of a Harry Osborn and Peter Parker type dynamic than Wily vs Light. I definitely expect Wily would have turned evil in the next season if we ever get that far. Wily’s not bad, but I can’t say that he is all that interesting either. Meanwhile Suna is a dependable ally. She always does her best to support Megaman and does cheer him on whenever the blue bomber falls under another spell or isn’t acting very rationally. Suna also has her drones so she can contribute a little during the fight scenes. I’m not sure why they switched out Roll for Suna, but it doesn’t really make much of a difference in the story. I also would say that Suna is a more likable character than Roll.

We can’t forget Mega Mini, he’s Mega Man’s main sidekick during the series. He is one of the comic relief characters of the series and most of his dialogue is about making the quick one liners to help boost Mega Man’s confidence. I definitely don’t think he was needed in the story and his sort of romance with Hypno Woman was definitely not a keeper. Then you’ve got Rush who doesn’t have a huge role in the story, but is still pretty fun. Dr. Light comes across as a little shady here. He wants to make the world a better place for humans, but I wouldn’t totally trust him if I were a robot. He has the Mega Key which is dangerous for everyone and tends to keep a lot of secrets. The fact that Light can actually fight it out with the robots physically is definitely very cool though.

It’s time to look at the main character of this adventure. Mega Man is your classic hero who is just trying to live life as a normal robot. For the most part he has already adjusted to living alongside humans but occasionally at school his robot self will show its inexperience to an extent as he can be a bit oblivious about things. The show showed a lot of restraint in not making him exaggerated. He can be a bit cocky at times, but at the end of the day Mega Man’s character is pretty much what you’d expect. He’s a hero that you can count on.

One thing that does hurt a bit is how much the show loves to mess with his personality by having him absorb other robot master powers. It’s a huge weakness to be honest. In the old games he could just absorb them but in the show they changed it so that he gets part of their personality inserted into himself. This naturally leads him into a lot of wacky situations where he becomes super nervous, super grouchy, hungry, etc. These scenarios are never quite as funny as the show seems to think it is. The humor in the series really isn’t that bad, but it’s at its best when it isn’t about Mega Man being corrupted. Alas, it happens to him in almost every episode yet he never seems to learn. Every episode he seems to be surprised that it worked. There’s also the fact that it rarely seems to be necessary to save the day.

Then you’ve got Obsidian who is the main villain of this show. He has a secret identity but the show lets you know who he is almost immediately. It’s the kind of secret that the characters in the show don’t know but the audience does right away. He’s definitely a fun villain although his motives are really all over the place. He thinks that humans and robots shouldn’t get along so in his human form he tries to get them to rise up while as a robot he leads all of the robots to destroy the humans. Ultimately by getting the secret weapon in Light’s house he would be able to start the war, but it would be so much easier to just show up and start blasting everyone. His power level is quite high so there is almost nobody who could stop him in a straight fight.

His design is really cool so the show did a good job with that. He’s actually a better version of the usual Wily that you would expect. Then you’ve got his right hand man Namagem. I admit that I thought he would end up being Wily the whole time so the show did dodge my expectations this time. I do think there’s a bit of a missed opportunity with his real identity or maybe I should say that it’s more that I didn’t care for the design so much. I’m sure he will be changing a lot if the show ever comes back though. He’s a fun villain to have around although his power level definitely fluctuated quite drastically. Sometimes he would be almost as strong as Obsidian and other times he would have a hard time with normal robot masters. I don’t think even the show knew exactly how strong he would be.

His fights with Mega Man are some of the best in the show though. I’m not sure exactly which fight I’d put as the best in the series but it would either be between these two or a fight with Obsidian. I definitely look forward to him showing up more. Then you’ve got one of the iconic villains, Fire Man. He’s the classic not very smart but fairly tough character. Fire Man may have been one of the first villains to lose, but he is still treated as a fairly big threat once in a while which is definitely nice for his fans. Of course you can also just argue that Namagem simply couldn’t be taken seriously by the end so Fire Man went up by default.

Then you’ve got one of the show’s original characters, Chaotique. Now she is a scene-stealer. Her ability is super speed to the extent that she is even faster than Elec Man which is impressive. She seems to be able to keep the speed up for longer while Elec Man is more about quick splashes of speed. The only problem with this naturally is that she is way too powerful to actually be stopped by anyone. The show surprisingly writes pretty well around this so it never gets to be an issue. Her character development also goes in a different way than what I expected so that was pretty neat. We don’t really know what’s going on right now since we only have the villain’s word to take on her status. She would definitely be the person to watch out for in season 2.

The rest of the robot masters are a little less remarkable. Drill Man has a pretty emotional origin story about how he had to give up his dreams when his robot design was changed for drilling. It’s played for laughs to an extent, but if you really think about it his story is really tragic. Hypno Woman and Blasto Woman are some of those villains who may be evil, but seems redeemable right away. Hypno Woman’s not particularly ruthless and in a way her illusions allow everyone to lead a peaceful life. Then you’ve got Blasto Woman whose character is hurt by her plot with Mega Mini and in general I don’t think she was one of the better show exclusive characters. I actually mixed both of these characters up while writing this review and had to go back to fix the names.

Wave Man is decent, but pretty generic and never really came into his own. I dare you to even say what his character personality was by the end. Then you’ve got Ice Man who is supposed to be fairly misunderstood and as a result is not very impressive as a villain. He’s simply too gullible. Cut Man at least has his perfection thing going. He’s also super easy to manipulate but at least the guy had a more tangible goal and did a better job of actually getting in there and getting the job done. I would not trust him to cut my hair for a second though so I don’t really get how he got his own store. I mean, people are more used to the robots in this world but still……I dunno.

Air Man got some of the lowest amounts of screen time among all of the characters. He does have a really cool scene showing how high he can fly though. I’d say that he’s low key one of the tougher robots here. Then you’ve got Chemistry Man whose whole character becomes a lot better thanks to his voice. His voice is amazing and right away gets across that he is a jaded professor who is upset at the world. It’s all the city’s fault and not his. You have to respect the guy’s one track mind. Guts Man is a little disappointing here because all he can do is eat a lot. It’s an interesting gimmick I guess, but it means that he spends most of his time eating instead of fighting. Even with that it’s not like he’s easily the worst version of the character. I’m not a big fan in general, but he could have still been improved here.

Then you’ve got Elec Man who definitely makes his presence felt with his incredible speed. He’s another fairly broken character who would absolutely dominate the main cast if not for plot convenience and the like. You just can’t hope to beat overwhelming speed like that without some really cool abilities of your own. He was one of the better villains.

Wood Man’s interpretation was also pretty interesting. He’s basically a paranoid ninja from the war who never quite returned home in one peace. It’s further foreshadowing at a war that we’ll probably never get to actually see, but had a really cool premise otherwise. It’d be nice to see some more stories of how the war was back in the day. Then we’ve got Man Man who is a big fan of the blue bomber. He’s a nice tribute to the original box art for the games. You know what kind of character he will be from the start, but he’s handled well. He’s a very genuine character who does his best to help save the day.

Fully Charged definitely has a soundtrack that does the series proud. It gives us several remixes of the classic Mega Man theme and we get other 8 bit tunes during the little cartoons that pop up during the episodes. I also liked the “Meganize Me” theme that played during the transformation. These songs aren’t fancy or anything, but they’re catchy which I think is the point in this context. They’re tunes that just help the overall atmosphere and considering that you’ll be hearing the Meganize theme over and over you definitely want a nice jingle.

The animation is less impressive although I wouldn’t say that it’s too bad. There are really 2 kinds of CGI style, blocky and realistic. Typically blocky is more colorful and makes for nostalgic viewing like the Transformers machinima style while the more realistic style would be something like Beware the Batman or Final Fantasy Advent Children. Those are able to hit higher heights with the action scenes and can give you smoother action scenes. They both have their uses even if neither is very likely to be able to handle hand drawn animation. (Final Fantasy pulled it off though)

I like the character designs and we do get some real action scenes here. Fully Charged definitely delivers more than most similar shows like Pac Man and the Ghostly Adventures. Still, you can tell that the CGI isn’t quite there yet as the background doesn’t actually change. There is rarely any collateral damage even when attacks hit buildings. This may be a budget thing but it does mean that you can’t take most of the characters seriously as real fighters. They also can’t be that strong if someone like Dr. Light can take them down. Still, the show looks good overall and while hand drawn would have been nice to see, the graphics won’t make you avert your eyes or anything like that.

Overall, Mega Man Fully Charged is a very standard show. It makes for a fun watch, but there isn’t much to it beyond that. I don’t really think this is a show people will be talking about once a few years have passed. Honestly the show just ended and people are already barely talking about it. It was a fun take on the series though so I’m still glad that we got it. The 15 minute size definitely hurt it though. There’s only so much that you can do in 15 minutes and I’ll always stick to that. 30 minutes is just a much better way to present a good story and you can build up to the climax much more efficiently as well. Considering this, the show did a good job of making the final 2 episodes pretty climactic. I’d recommend checking out Fully Charged. It’ll take you for a fun ride and hopefully it does eventually return for a season 2.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Meteor Man Review


It’s time to look at a superhero movie that isn’t very well known. At the very least I definitely hadn’t heard of it before and I consider myself to be a bit of an expert on comic book movies. It’s one of those films that is a little tragic because for the most part it’s really fun. I dare say that it’s a great movie at some points, but then it seriously falters towards the end. There’s one moment in particular that is quite egregious and I’ll get into that later on in the movie.

The film starts off by introducing us to Jefferson. He’s grown up in a pretty tough neighborhood where gangs are pressing ground and the cops can’t handle them. His father is trying to get the community to rise up, but it’s been tough since there are few who actually want to support this. He does a good job of standing up to them, but the gangs are very powerful so eventually the neighborhood is on the losing side. At that point, Jefferson is hit by a meteor and gets super powers. He’s now got super strength, durability, flight, speed, etc. He is effectively a Superman so ending street crime should be easy right?

An interesting dynamic here is that everyone in the town knows that Jefferson is Meteor Man. There aren’t a lot of superhero movies where the hero’s identity is public at least until when Iron Man came out and that sort of changed how secret identities are handled in the movies. It’s a nice angle but Jefferson ruins it because of how timid he is. He spends a lot of the film just running away from the villains or passively watching them.

I’ve got no problem with him doing that when he was a human. That’s fine and if anything that’s actually pretty realistic because we see that whoever stands up to the gang is quickly beaten. The people are too afraid to actually charge him with a crime and that ties the cops’ hands as well. Maybe even the first scene would be fine, but once Jeff sees that he is bullet proof he should not be scared at all. Instead he just keeps letting people get beaten up because he refuses to go after the villains. He just watches them off each time and since they know his true identity you’d think that he would take the mission of stopping them a little more seriously.

The casualties keep on building throughout the film as the villains go after his Dad and then a next door neighbor. Meteor Man waited so long that even his powers started fading away which really shows how he came close to blowing his chance here. He was literally sleeping when they broke into his house and put the family at risk. Everyone easily could have died there and it would have directly been Jeff’s fault.

The worst part about this is definitely the ending though. Jeff’s dog gets hit by the villain and is dying in front of his eyes. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not only was the film repeatedly shooting itself in the foot here, but Jeff didn’t even make an attempt to save his own dog. He just lamented that his powers were fading and rather than use the last of them to save his own pet he just watches. Fortunately another guy with powers shows up and saves the dog, but it’s such a terrible scene. Unless it is actually meant to make you dislike Jeff but I don’t really believe that was the intention. If it was then I suppose I’ve got to admit that the film pulled a fast one on me…but it’s not like that would save the scene.

If ever there was an ending that destroyed a film it was this one. Even the big battle with Meteor Man and the villain is pretty annoying. Why did the guy have to also get super powers? It felt pretty forced and since he is already a better fighter than Jeff it meant that the hero was basically confirmed to lose from the start. Even once Jeff gets the Bruce Lee book he ends up getting wrecked and by the time he actually manages to win you’ve stopped rooting for Jeff. You’d almost rather some other hero comes in to win.

The less said about the climax the better. It’s not like it was devoid of fun, but it does totally encapsulate the missed opportunities in this film. It never should have gotten to that point if Jeff was even a slightly decent hero. It’s a crying shame if you ask me. The film’s at its best when it’s taking advantage of the parody elements in the movie. There’s some fun scenes that poke fun at the whole thing like when they announce who Meteor Man is so casually at a board meeting.

Then there’s the scene in the ally with little kids stealing someone’s purse. The sequence is so surreal that you’ll likely think that it is just a dream for a while. I certainly did so when the scene just didn’t end I was shocked. That’s the kind of scene that is low key excellent. If the film had played to its strengths like that then it may have been better. Another good scene is when Jeff is trying to stick up for the kids, but ultimately has to give up because they keep breaking things.

The humor is actually on point here so there are a lot of fun moments like this. Meteor Man is part comedy after all so you would expect that. The film can surprisingly get pretty serious though so it does a good job of balancing both genres. It’s probably what adds onto the frustration for the average person living in the neighborhood. Imagine literally living next to a super hero and still being robbed the next day.

Aside from the lead the other characters are at least charismatic. Simon, the leader of the villains is cool even though his screen time is very limited. He’s definitely the leader for a reason. Then the other members of the gang are good enough. Jeff’s Dad does a good job of leading the rebellion and while he does endure quite a lot in doing so, he never regrets his actions which is great. He’s tough all the way through to the end. Jeff’s friend Michael is pretty annoying though. He puts everyone in danger by pretending to be the Meteor Man and that’s ultimately part of what puts the hero in such a bad position.

Overall, Meteor Man didn’t really click for me. It’s unfortunate because I liked more of the film than what I didn’t, but the latter scenes just really hurt its case. The final fight even throws some random power level issues in which is rare for live action. There’s a good movie in here, but the lead just does his best to sabotage it at every corner. It’s why it can be very difficult to have a good film with a bad main character. It’s possible of course, but it’s never going to be as good as it should have been. If you can get around the fact that you’re gonna be a bit annoyed during the film then I’d recommend checking it out. Otherwise you should definitely check out Steel instead.

Overall 5/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Kuroko’s Basketball Review


I haven’t read a whole lot of sport titles before now so it’s always good to start a new one. Kuroko’s Basketball was getting a ton of hype back in the day and I can definitely say that it is well deserved. I don’t see this one being surpassed as the definitive Basketball title. That means that for sports we now have definitive titles for Tennis, (Prince of Tennis) Football, (Eyeshield 21) and Basketball. (Kuroko’s Basketball) While I have read titles for other sports I am hesitant to say that any of the others are the definitive versions yet. I think Whistle does have a strong case for Soccer though. Kuroko’s Basketball is definitely an excellent title either way and one that I highly recommend.

The series starts off by introducing us to the concept of the Miracle Generation. This was a legendary group of Basketball players who were seen as invincible throughout middle school. However, they disbanded after that with every member going to a different high school. One such member is named Kuroko and he decides to finally re-enter Basketball. He ends up getting on a team that has been pretty good over the last few years while at the same time not being in the same league as the top high schools. He figures this is a pretty good time to step out of the shadow of the more experienced members and finally prove himself. The other main character is Kagami who comes from America. He doesn’t know much about the Miracle Generation and doesn’t really care anyway. He just wants to be the best and leading this high school to the championship is his chance to test his skills. Can Kuroko and Kagami raise the school to new heights?

Kuroko may be one of the miracle generation but in terms of shooting ability he is easily the weakest member of the team. That’s because his specialty is passing and he focused on this completely to the point where he became the best passer of all time. It’s also an interesting trade off because his vanish passes only work because of his lack of talent. He is able to erase his presence on the court and to everyone else it’s like he appears out of thin air. If he were to get better at the game then he wouldn’t be able to pull this off since people would notice him. The whole plot is actually handled extremely well.

Throughout the series you wonder why he doesn’t just practice more to work on his shooting. Of course getting better isn’t that easy, but he’s got a super supportive team so it makes sense. The answer is pretty obvious, but still delivered well and makes for a good twist. It’s something you know in the back of your head, but it still comes across as a surprise which in my mind means the execution was spot on. It’s a little tough for Kuroko since he is not able to get back at the other members directly, but through Kagami he is able to get wins and that’s the big picture goal anyway.

Kagami is basically sharing the main character status with Kuroko and is a really good lead. He’s more of a classic main character type who is always ready for a game and strives to be the best. He’s super competitive and is filled with confidence. I think he plays a large part in why the manga is so good. In general the cast is pretty strong in this series, but even among them Kagami is one of the standout characters. His duels with Aomine in particular are really solid and I’m also glad that he doesn’t back down even when the villains decide to get physical. One such moment is when he steps up to the main villain and manages to dodge the stab attempt from point blank range. Without Kagami the team would be doomed and he brings the fiery energy that you need on the team.

He also gets quite a few arcs during the series as well. As the best player he naturally has a lot of unique burdens on himself as well. One is that if he is losing the 1 on 1 battle the whole team loses motivation and he knows it. That adds a lot of extra stress. Another part is where it starts to get to his head and he just wants to beat the whole team on his own. I think the tough part there is that there’s some truth to this approach. If he doesn’t take on the whole team then they may lose, but at the same time it stops the other players from growing. There isn’t really an easy answer here. Still, ultimately he recognizes his status as the ace while also being a team player.

Hyuga is one of the main members of the team and effectively he serves as the captain. His deal is that he’s usually nice, but sometimes a switch gets flipped and he becomes super rude which also makes him a better shot. It’s an unique dynamic although I never really became a fan of his. He’s pretty useful since he can land the 3 point shots consistently and keeps the team together. Hyuga is the “mostly” calm mind you need on the team to keep everyone balanced even if it doesn’t allow him to become one of the more exciting characters.

Izuki is the eagle eye of the team who has his eye on the ball at all times. He’s good at landing the steals, but in comparison to the other members I wouldn’t say his role is massive. You do feel his presence though and as most of the characters get a rival on different teams, Izuki does have his big moments. Izuki’s a very balanced member of the team and I’d say that he rounds out the cast pretty well. He’s a fun character.

Kiyoshi joins the cast a little later on, but makes a good difference once he is in. He’s a good bodyguard that the team needed and definitely goes through quite a lot. I dare say that he has the most painful journey from all of the heroes and certainly experienced loss more as well. He’s another solid character and while he never became the all star, he keeps up with Kagami a lot better than anyone else on the team.

Riko is the team coach and has a special ability where she can look at everyone’s stats. It’s a fun enough ability although it never becomes too handy. The reason for this is because even when she knows that their team is outclassed it doesn’t seem to matter much. She just tells them to play harder, but almost never goes into the strategy of it. Her more useful skill is the accelerated healing which allows a player to go back in even after surpassing his limits. That one’s definitely real handy.

Then we have the other members of the miracle generation. First up is Kise who is the copycat of the group. He can learn and stela anyone’s finisher move and use it against them. He’s probably the least intimidating member of the OP players, but by the end of the series he’s definitely top 3. I’d still put Aomine and Akashi above him, but I think he could take down any of the others. He’s easily one of my favorite antagonists and is a good rival character. He seems to have the quickest growth out of the main characters so in a sequel I could see him claiming the top spot.

Midorima is another top member and his big skill is that he can hit 3 point shots from any range with 100% accuracy. In theory I feel like that should make him the most deadly member, but I suppose you need the all around skills to really succeed. The other members just tend to overwhelm him with pure power. Perhaps if this was a 1 on 1 he would have better luck but at the same time the others would probably steal the ball a lot. Midorima is fun, but not nearly as solid as the other big villains.

Aomine is my favorite character in the series and really steals the show in every scene he’s in. He’s the original rival but somehow manages to still be one of the strongest characters in the series. By the end he is arguably the third strongest Basketball player still and I like to think that he could still beat Kagami and Akashi. He really knows how to go into the Zone which basically becomes a mandatory skill by the end of the series. Without his coaching Kagami definitely wouldn’t have been ready for the end. His plot is also the most sympathetic since he got so good that the games became boring and nobody wanted to even play with him. It’s tough being the best and naturally he took that to mean that maybe he should stop practicing. That does make sense to stop growing stronger and the fact that Aomine is still one of the best shows just how dangerously good he is.

Murasakibara probably gets the least amount of screen time from the miracle generation. He’s also got the worst attitude of the group and doesn’t even enjoy Basketball the way that the others do. The gang shows him the light here, but he really only played basketball because he was so good at it. He’s really tall which helps a lot for fundamentals and from there his natural skills just helped him jump to victory. I can’t say that I ever became a fan of his. I was definitely rooting for Akashi when they had their big fight. Murasakibara’s skills are the real deal, but in a series where you have so many great characters he just can’t keep up.

Akashi is the main villain of the series so you can definitely guess that his ability is going to be more OP than the others. For the most part the series tries to stay reasonably realistic. Even the various super powers like the vanish throw try to at least throw some logic into the mix to explain how Kuroko is able to accomplish such a feat. I dare say that the author barely tried with Akashi’s though. He’s got 2 personalities and with a glance he can knock you to the ground. Then he is also able to see through all techniques and is pretty close to unstoppable. He does make for a good villain though and is another figure who was ultimately overcome by the pressure that was placed on him. You definitely need a villain like him around to make the game more exciting even if he isn’t quite as cool as Kise or Aomine. The dual identity thing reminded me of Sensui though and was handled pretty well.

Koganei steps up to the plate towards the end of the series for the main characters. He’s not terribly talented, but he does have a big drive to win. This helps make up for the talent and win or lose he always tries his best. He even went up against the main villain and while you knew he was doomed from the start it was a pretty worthy effort. I also liked the idea of getting him in the mix. Even if you aren’t amazing in general every game is different so being able to do some damage makes sense. I could see him getting more of a role in a sequel.

Takao is a fun character from one of the opposing squads. Similar to how Kuroko has Kagami in his corner, most of the other Miracle Generation fighters have a second in command as well. Takao is good at blocking Kuroko’s surprise passes and is definitely a very competent player in his own right. He may not be on the level of the Miracle Generation, but he can hold his own. Imayoshi is one of the craftier opponents. He’s always got a plan and knows when to take a support role instead of trying to be one of the main characters. This guy helps fill out the team pretty well.

Then you’ve got Himuro who used to be rivals with Kagami back in the day. That made his team pretty unique in that it had two members who were able to keep up with the main guy. That being said, I didn’t like him nearly as much as the other players. I feel like the issue with him is that he loses the mental game the whole time. He blows up at his old coach and throughout his game with Kagami he feels pretty petty. If he was able to bring in a good fight without doing all the extra tricks then that’d be good, but otherwise you just feel like he isn’t quite dedicated enough for this level yet.

Now it’s time to look at the rest of Akashi’s team. Unlike the others every member of his group is a heavy hitter. First up is Reo, an intimidating three point shooter. He doesn’t miss and has a variety of moves which makes it very difficult to block or evade his shots. He’s definitely not one of the more interesting villains, but he makes for a good rival. Then you’ve got Kotaro who is able to dribble very quickly. It’s definitely a less impressive ability than most, but it does mean that stealing the ball from him is really hard. Moreover, he is actually able to even overwhelm Kagami with this ability briefly which is no small feat. Usually the backup members don’t get to mess with Kagami, but this guy welcomed the challenge.

Then you have Nebuya who is the power hitter of the group. He is able to hold his own physically against Kiyoshi and if we’re being honest he is definitely stronger than that guy. In a one on one fight he won’t be losing to him and his raw power also makes it difficult for Kagami to stop him as well. The guy has a lot of pride in his play and is definitely one of the more enjoyable members of the group. Finally you have Mayuzumi. He’s not very interested in Basketball but is manipulated by Akashi into joining the fray anyway. He wants to be a good player in his own right, but Akashi’s plan is for him to effectively be just like Kuroko. The cost of this would be that he can never stand out though so you can see why he wouldn’t want that to be the case.

There are definitely more characters of course, but these are the main standouts so check out the manga to take a look at the ones I skipped. It’s an excellent read from start to finish. One factor that really helps is how good the artwork looks. The artist is really able to illustrate just how intense these games get. All of the characters are drawn consistently and the art only gets better and better as the series goes on. While there are a small handful of characters who look a little too similar the artist does a good job of differentiating the characters otherwise.

One of the best parts of the series is when we’re first introduced to “The Zone” as well as when Kagami is first able to enter it. It’s a pretty great super form that makes the game even more intense. It also has solid limitations like only being able to use it for a few minutes to prevent this from being completely broken. The way it is implemented is pretty fair if you ask me. It’s naturally also veering away from the more realistic aspects of the other series, but that’s fine.

I think another impressive part of the series is just how much time is spent on the court while still developing the characters. The only other series I’ve seen with such an amazing balance would be Prince of Tennis and while that is still my favorite sport title, I would have to admit that this one has the stronger supporting cast. It’s actually fairly tough to make all of the main characters likable. Even titles like Black Clover and DBZ run into some trouble there. You can’t make every character great, but since on the field the main 5 characters will constantly be around it was important that the series made sure they were good.

One thing that I’m sure everyone was waiting to see from the start was how the Miracle Generation used to be. Honestly it would make for a fun prequel, but as it is we did see some of their wins through flashbacks near the end of the series. They are every bit as overwhelming as you would expect and are absolutely merciless. It makes sense that they wanted to split up after that since it’s a lot more fun to fight people on the same level than to just steamroll everyone in your path.

Overall, Kuroko’s Basketball is definitely a great title to read. It works both as an amazing sports title as well as a great story of comradery. The basketball games are pretty long so there’s a lot of time for proper character development and team adaption during the games. There’s a lot to love about this title and there are really no negatives. Whenever the next volume would arrive I’d dash through the whole thing. The series never has any slow moments and if anything it’s all just gone too quickly. I highly recommend checking this title out. You’ll definitely be glad that you took the plunge. Now I’m ready to read the quick sequel, it’ll be fun to see the characters one last time.

Overall 9/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Men In Black: International Review


All right gang, it’s time to look at the Men in Black’s latest outing. It’s definitely a franchise that pretty much everyone is familiar with although it hasn’t been the most consistent of titles. The first film was really good and the second was still solid. The third one was a pretty big dip in quality though and this one is more in line with that. It’s a decent movie, but one that you probably won’t bother to see twice.

The film starts out with a tease with Agent H and T heading off to fight the Hive. The scene ends real quick though so you never get to see the fight, thereby making it a bit of a waste of an intro. The scene wasn’t bad, but the sudden ending just invalidates the whole thing. We then cut to a flashback taking place before the intro which was also a flashback. We’re introduced to Molly who managed to escape having her memory wiped since everyone thought she was asleep. She then makes it her life’s mission to find the MIB. After tracking them down and being recruited she is given her first assignment. Agent M is to work with H and what should have been a routine escort mission quickly becomes a planetary crisis. Is M ready for this?

First off, the script is pretty solid. I do like the fast paced banter with the leads here. This style of humor’s been working pretty well for Chris’ various cinema characters lately and Agent H is no exception. He’s always got a comeback for everything and the rest of the characters follow suit. One good example of this is Pawny who takes every opportunity to take shots at H. While not all of the insults will land there are quite a few solid ones in there. One involves referencing how H was choked which was the ultimate comeback. There’s no counter to that. There is a whole lot of comedy in the film, but it rarely gets annoying. At most you’ve got some laugh scenes that last too long or too many jokes in a small time frame, but with the writing it didn’t really feel like an issue.

I think where the writing breaks down is how MIB just feels more about spectacle than realism here. I’m sure there are issues with them you could nitpick in the earlier films too, but here they’re just very apparent. One is how the heroes constantly show off the alien tech everywhere. There’s one scene where H and M quickly blast a few humans with the memory wiper, but ignore the hundreds of other people in the area. I guess there’s no time to blast them all, but then it’s almost pointless to blast the few. Molly’s whole origin story is pretty telling on how easy it is to avoid the MIB. I feel like more people should know about them at this point. As for a total nitpick, the train scene is a little odd. This is a secret MIB train that only the agents know about so why does it keep changing from an MTA train to a sci-fi one? Once it’s already underground with aliens boarding I don’t see the purpose in keeping it transformed except for the shock value scene of spooking M.

The film is also very predictable. To an extent most films are, but some just feel more telegraphed than others. This one is like Captain Marvel in that respect (Maybe it’s just a sci-fi thing) but you’ll be able to predict all of the twists before they occur. I won’t even hint at the main twist, but the instant one character brings up the possibility you just know that it’s a certainty. Then there’s one character who appears for an instant near the beginning so you know it’ll tie in later on. They say that the destination doesn’t matter and it’s all about the journey so if we take that as true then this wouldn’t really hurt the film. Honestly I don’t hold predictability against a movie since I do think it’s all in the execution. It wouldn’t hurt to mask what’s going to happen a little better though.

Now for the characters. I think Chris Hemsworth is quickly becoming like Tom Cruise or Dwayne Johnson in that he’s quickly becoming an actor who is playing himself rather than a character. There’s a debate to be had on whether that’s a good thing or not (Hint, it’s usually a good thing) but regardless it makes for H being a pretty entertaining character. He definitely has his share of iffy moments and he goes a little too far in being the irresponsible lead. You can see what the film is going for with the character, but I think he plays the trope a little too far. Now, the film does open the door to an explanation for this, but the film only halfheartedly entertains the idea and never goes through with it. Unless we actually get a sequel this will just be something for fan theories and headcanons so I can’t give him a pass. He’s an entertaining character, but definitely not a heroic one.

M is pretty solid. She’s definitely his polar opposite as she has lived her whole life just to join the MIB and as a result has no real life. This is almost a bit tragic to be honest, but I always like when a character has a one track mind like this. She’s a quick learner and while she isn’t as quick to think on her feet, she does have a lot of general knowledge on aliens and such. M has done her research so she adds some brains to the operation. She fills in her role pretty well.

Agent C is also a solid character. He’s thrown into one of those roles where he’s made out to be the annoying figure in the film, but that’s all if you look at it through the main characters’ lens. If you think about it objectively he is just doing his job and doing it well I might add. Every action he takes makes sense and it’s also perfectly understandable why he is a little jealous about how H gets to break all of the rules. I liked him quite a bit. Then you’ve got Agent T who is the classic boss type character. He’s pretty stern and down to business. A solid character all around, but naturally I liked him best during the flashback opening where he was a field agent.

As mentioned earlier Pawny is mainly here to crack a lot of jokes. He does come in handy on many occasions though and I think a good comic relief character needs to know when to step up. Pawny did just that and as a result he is a very complete character. He easily could have been a very annoying one so I think we got to give him some credit for avoiding that fate. Then you have one of the villains named Riza who is around for a quick fight scene. I do like the idea of a 3 armed fighting style and thought the fight was pretty well handled. Her actual plot wasn’t though. I won’t say much here, but keep in mind that her island is known as a lair of certain death and is the toughest place in the cosmos. So…why doesn’t she have more guards or security so people can’t literally strut around the place? Everything’s connected to one lever??? You’re gonna be suspending a lot of disbelief here.

There are also the two villains from the trailer who can turn into a space like vortex. They have cool designs and I like the moveset, but the film doesn’t give them a whole lot to do. In a way they just feel like they’re filling in space which is never what you want to happen. I think so much more could have been done with them, they don’t even really get named by the end of their appearances.

The special effects are definitely on point. There are a lot of scenes where the movie gets to show off the energy effects and such. There aren’t too many fights, but I did like the first action scene which took place in the city. The city’s always the best backdrop and as I mentioned the villains’ powers have good visuals attached to them. There were even some Terminator influences here with how they could manipulate metal. Then the soundtrack is superb as always. The main Men in Black theme is just really good and tends to fit in with everything. It makes any scene feel a lot more intriguing automatically.

Overall, Men in Black International was pretty reasonable. It’s a good film, I just wouldn’t call it very good. I think it’s a nice example of a film that didn’t necessarily do anything wrong (No animal violence, no excessive violence, the script was reasonable, etc) but it doesn’t really stick out. There are films that tackle the same subjects and plots that just handle them a lot better. This movie is the kind of title that makes for a fun experience at the theaters or watching at home the first go around, but there’s not a whole lot to say about it afterwards. You’ll enjoy it, but then move on to the next thing. There’s nothing great about it or super good in general. Still, I would recommend checking it out. Honestly, just being an enjoyable film isn’t such a bad thing. It wouldn’t be the first title I’d check out, but if you just want to watch a nice movie with some action scenes then this will be up your alley.

Overall 6/10